Open letter to J.J. Rawlings at 69

Jerry John Rawlings
Jerry John Rawlings

Happy belated 69th birthday to you! You have come a long way in your participation in Ghana’s politics. Ghanaian People expect you to be truly retired now. Obviously however, you don’t seem to want to take the back bench – for whatever reasons – even though your political influence in Ghana continues to wane to irrelevant proportions.

Many former world leaders – especially the ones who ruled with integrity and without killing, stealing, corruption or anything to hide from their people – become more popular and respected out of office. They also become respected by creating foundations and telling their story through writing books to leave a legacy for the next generation.

You Papa J however, seem to be a different kind of former President. You appear to have a lot to hide from the people of Ghana. Since the year 2000 when you stepped down after your 19- year rule, you have not written a single article about your experiences as a head of state.

Even President J.A Kufuor who ruled after you has set up a foundation. What are you waiting for?

You claim that Fidel Castro of Cuba is your mentor. Fidel Castro has so far written about two-hundred and seven (207) books including the 2006 famous and best-selling book: My life; A spoken auto-biography and the 1958 ‘History will absolve me”.

Fidel Castro has defended his ideology, principles, policies, and tactics in his books. He is respected by people all over the world, including his enemies.

Nelson Mandela, who you claim to admire also wrote the book ”The Long Walk To Freedom” which has now been made into a movie. He had nothing to hide.

Papa J, you claimed in 2011 on BBC that you were writing a book. Where is that book? Are you taking forever to write a single book? Or were you throwing dust into the eyes of the world? Many people have stated that you cannot write a book because you don’t have what it takes to do so.

Is your story that bad as we have been told over the years through the writings of others?

Or is it that you cannot explain or narrate your own positions, decisions, tactics, ideology, policies or governing experiences? Did you do too many bad things during your regime that you prefer to keep them buried in your head rather than putting them in a book? Even bad deeds can teach people lessons!

Well, your 69th birthday came with little, if at all, any recognition by Ghanaians. Just a few people remembered to wish you a happy birthday on social media.

Father’s day just passed by and no one thinks you are anywhere near father of the nation. Ghanaians are forgetting about you even whiles you are still alive. Isn’t that a shame?

In Cuba, Fidel Castro’s birthday is a national event. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela’s birthday – even after his death – is a national event. But your birthday has become a mere Rawlings family event just because you have refused to dignify yourself and act like other former Presidents after handing over power.

Well, you still have time to try to redeem yourself from this bad situation before you leave this world.

Papa J, Please try to keep your word. When you make public pronouncements, try to leave by it because we the people don’t forget what you say. You are now an old man so act like an old man. You claim for six years now that you are writing a book, let us see the book.

So far, we all know that when you talk about probity, accountability, corruption etc you don’t walk that talk. You do exactly what you preach against. So please spare us that sanctimonious rhetoric!

Recently, when the Africa Watch Magazine alleged that you suffer from Parkinson’s disease and requires prayers, you denied it and threatened to sue them unless they withdrew that story. The Magazine insisted and defended their story. We are still waiting for your legal suit against the magazine. If you don’t sue the magazine, we’ll know that you indeed need some prayers!

Papas J, Please, at 69, try to walk your talk.


Papa Payin Oduro,

Ahinsan, Kumasi

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